The bout was to find a new champion after the title had been stripped from Suguru Muranaka, who failed to make weight for a title defense earlier this year. And find a new champion it did, as Kogawa, who had the title prior to Muranaka defeating him in December 2013, reclaimed it in style.
From the off these two set a great pace with Saito, a tough and heavy handed fighter, coming forward and trying to walk down the energetic Kogawa, who was relentlessly throwing shots at Saito in an attempt to slow his foe. The action, through 5, was great and competitive though did see the judges favouring the work rate of the veteran, who was leading 48-47, 49-46, 49-46 at the mid-way point.
The second half of the fight was much the same with Saito landing the heavier, more bruising shots though being out worked round after round. It was a case of both men doing what they do best.
Sadly for Saito he lacked the power to ever have the tough Kogawa in real trouble though he did make Kogawa work incredibly hard en route to claiming the decision win, with scores of 97-93, 98-92 and 98-92.
Saito will come again. His record certainly doesn't reflect his ability and he's a handful for anyone domestically. As for Kogawa he's likely to look for bigger fights, possibly a rematch with Muranaka, though is unlikely to vacate until a big fight comes along.
(Image courtesy boxingnews.jp)